As a matter of fact,“From Genesis To Revelation” from 1969 is the original debut album for British band Genesis, but instinctively it feels slightly different to me. One year later, with “Trespass”, the band started to pioneer within the relatively young genre of progressive rock. Bands such as The Moody Blues, King Crimson and Van Der Graaf Generator preceded Genesis with their intricately structured music. The momentum among the Genesis youngsters was high, what do you expect: new record label, manager, producer, drummer, cover artist plus a number of newly purchased instruments. And so it came to be that during the months of June and July of 1970 the band found themselves in the Trident Studios in London to record their second album “Trespass”. For many, that’s where it actually started.
Although their sound would settle on later albums, the band already has this typical Genesis vibe on “Trespass”. All six songs are pastoral gems that have dynamics that are constantly captivating. We hear a smooth ebb and flow of acoustic 12-string guitars, steaming organ chords, wonderful playing on the electric guitar, heavenly flute parts, a passionate rhythm section, sultry vocals from a brilliant Peter Gabriel and much more. “Trespass” is a glimpse into the future, an album that takes you to a place where the Mellotron reigns, where the electric guitar is as green as the Minister of Agriculture and where the many harmony vocals symbolize the togetherness of the people. In addition, everything is beautifully arranged. Every now and then the piano is more than welcome and cello, accordion, dulcimer and various percussion instruments also contribute to the intense atmosphere of the album. “Trespass” radiates quite a beautiful glow.
The first five songs, more than one and a half side of an LP, have something in common, with their melancholy roundness, while the closing The Knife with its feisty moments can be described as square. I am deliberately expressing myself somewhat vaguely as “Trespass” as a whole seems mostly heavenly and mysterious to me.
This feeling is already emphatically present when you look at the beautiful cover that appeals to the imagination. Especially on LP format, this creation, signed by Paul Whitehead, is a feast for the eyes, especially since there are all kinds of references to the lyrics. The knife that cuts the canvas is a brilliant find, because later, when the cover was actually already finished, the song The Knife was added to the track list and a knife had to be added to the cover art.
“Trespass” has always made me feel like someone was sneaking a peek. I think that’s because of the opening bars of opener Looking For Someone. A rather desperate Gabriel can be heard against a background of drawn-out organ chords and voluptuous runs. I was immediately sold and for half a lifetime I’ve been able to enjoy a song that resembles a large collection of smaller sections for more than seven minutes. What a great combination. Halfway through, some rolling rhythms emerge and Tony Banks swirls all over his organ, later to become his trademark. In the subsequent White Mountain, Genesis manages to create a nice variety of baroque passages on the one hand, whereas on the other hand acoustic guitars tinkle stately and up-tempo chorusesshine.It is amazing how Gabriel makes his way through all this, vocally. The song closes tastefully with a humming part that, to me, has a Russian ring to it. The song Vision Of Angels also excels in terms of atmosphere. The composition dates back to the time of “From Genesis To Revelation”, although you can hardly tell. It’s based on catchy piano play and has powerful beats with a swelling overall sound.
As a young guy, I regularly set the world record flipping albums because after three songs I just had to listen to more.
With songs like Stagnation, Dusk and The Knife you will not miss out on any of that. And here’s an expert speaking. The epic Stagnation tells the story of a man who has decided to live underground. The song starts with acoustic guitars, then Banks engages a subtle organ stop with which he plays a somewhat curious melody, evolving into a wonderful solo. As the song progresses, more rhythm and melody come into it. Somehow the song used to not resonate with me, now all the more so. With drum-free Dusk, Genesis puts down a nice piece of folk, including flute. It opens the door to an unprecedented cool finale. The Knife is a wonderfully whirling song that contains some of the most powerful sections Genesis has ever produced. The song has become a real classic, quite logical when you hear how dedicated everyone’s playing is. Anthony Phillips takes the cake with his fiery guitar playing and Peter Gabriel delivers an avalanche of words that would make any man stutter.
It’s all such a blast on “Trespass”. The fact that John Mayhew and Anthony Phillips had already left the band by the next album and had been replaced by Phil Collins and Steve Hackett makes “Trespass” a remarkable and essential album in the Genesis discography. I can’t imagine life without this particular masterpiece.
© Dick van der Heijde 2022